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The Dante Lam team behind "Beast Stalker" reunite in "Stool Pigeon" where Nick Cheung now plays a cop and Nicholas Tse an ex-con and informant trying to infiltrate a heist team in a role reversal. We follow Senior Inspector Don Lee, who relies heavily on the intel provided by stool pigeons. Barbarian (Li Yu) is a jewel thief mastermind who has escaped conviction many times so Don recruits street-racer Ghost Junior (Tse) to go be his snitch. Haunted by his ruined relationships with his ex-wife and former stool pigeons, Don no longer wants to be part of a world that is one betrayal after another. He feels that he needs to Ghost Junior out alive to redeem himself.
: 26 Aug 2010
: Action / Thriller / Drama / Crime
1 Hour 50 Minutes
: GOLDEN VILLAGE PICTURES
, Kwai Lun-Mei, Liu Kai Chi, Miao Pu
Ezekiel Lee Zhiang Yang
Watch this if you liked:
“Fire Of Conscience”, “Beast Stalker”, “Invisible Target”
It's "Beast Stalker 2" as one-genre man Dante Lam Chiu Yin's latest Hua Yi Brothers-backed US$4 million crime drama goes down as his best so far, looking like it's been explicitly made with Golden Horse intentions, especially with the role reversal between Nick Cheung and Nicholas Tse, who now play a cop and an informant respectively.
Since "Sniper" was somewhat a flat, one-dimensional letdown, it was great that "Fire Of Conscience" burned brighter and now we can attest to "Stool Pigeon" being an ultimately superior product that benefits from the exceptional pairing of the lead duo and also a particularly restrained but intense screenplay by Jack Ng Wai Lun, save for some jarring extended downtime. The picture comes off stylish, thematically-gripping and substantial, balancing drama and action will equal aplomb, unlike the many uneasy blow-em-'up HK titles we have had to settle for every now and then.
The titular stool pigeon here is habitual offender Ghost Jr (Tse) who's the son of a renowned underground racer and is now doing time but Inspector Don (Cheung) picks him out to be the best positioned informant to infiltrate a gang who specialises in jewellery heists. Since his sister has been pimped out due to his father's debts, the money proves too good for him to refuse and Ghost Jr gets dragged through an epic struggle of blood, sweat and tears. We have good character development throughout, starting with Liu Kai Chi's ex-stoolie character and even Kwai Lun Mei who apparently holds a gun for the first time in a movie, playing a feisty gangster's moll. Mainlander Lu Yi gets a comfortable part as heist mastermind Barbarian while Miao Pu gets to play Nick Cheung's wife again ("Beast Stalker") in a twisted sideplot.
The mole scenario is a HK cinema overkill but "Stool Pigeon" offers two fresh aspects that are uncommon. One is the often darkly humourous dialogues about informant procedure and even pricing structure. We're shown how to "treat your stoolie like your girlfriend" and also how cash rewards commensurate with task objectives in a most organised way. Next, we have a more textured presentation, as Lam chose despairing Kowloon streets for most scenes and there are plenty of location-specific references that enrich the movie.
The director has edited a scalping scene with Cheung, so you can expect the movie to be averagely violent, with plenty of realistically dirty blood-soaked scuffles (check out Tse getting beaten to a pulp on the kerb) instead of clean chops and martial arts. Watch it as this year's best Hong Kong crime drama so far.
Cinema Online, 24 August 2010
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